[IWAR] CIA on Castro

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Thu Dec 04 1997 - 19:33:13 PST

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                   CIA sees no threat to Castro's power in near future
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 Reuters
       WASHINGTON (December 4, 1997 9:29 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - The
       CIA says it sees no near-term threat to the staying power of Cuban
       President Fidel Castro, an old foe and repeated assassination target in
       the early 1960s.
       "Fidel Castro appears healthy for a man of 70, and his political
       position seems secure," CIA Director George Tenet said in a June
       assessment to be made public belatedly this week.
       "Unless he suffers a health crisis, he is likely to be in power a year
       from now," Tenet added in a written reply to questions for the record
       from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
       Tenet's remarks were sent to the panel on June 12 for the publication
       this week of the full record of an annual hearing on threats to U.S.
       national security. Excerpts of his replies were obtained in advance by
       A Central Intelligence Agency spokesman, Mark Mansfield, asked whether
       the five-month-old assessment of Castro's grip on power still held, said
       only that Tenet's comments spoke for themselves.
       In his written reply to the panel, the CIA director noted that Castro,
       who crushed a disastrous CIA-backed invasion by Cuban exiles in April
       1961 at the Bay of Pigs, had "faced no challenges in recent years from
       the Cuban elite."
       The last "significant" case of popular unrest dated back to August 1994,
       when anti-Castro demonstrators were quickly controlled in downtown
       Havana, the capital, without straining the security forces, Tenet said.
       Castro seized power on Jan. 1, 1959. He quickly angered Washington by
       seizing U.S.-owned property in Cuba, 90 miles (140 km) from Key West,
       Florida, and allying himself with the Soviet Union.
       In line with President John F. Kennedy's wish to get rid of the bearded
       leftist leader in the early 1960s, the CIA plotted such cloak-and-dagger
       scenarios as the use of poisoned cigars, poison-tipped pens and
       exploding seashells during a scuba-diving trip.
       The CIA also undertook anti-Castro operations with the aid of the Mafia
       crime syndicate's old gambling contacts in Havana and plotted to make
       him look ridiculous by using a chemical to make his famous beard fall
       The latest unclassified CIA assessment of Castro's staying power
       differed in tone from one done a year earlier for the Senate
       intelligence panel.
       "A successful coup or assassination would require luck and secrecy,
       making the chances very great that we would have little, if any,
       warning," the CIA had said in the year-earlier reply dated May 10, 1996.
       By JIM WOLF, Reuters

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